George-Heyman-Environment-Minister-Mount-Polley.jpg

Mount Polley Investigation Still On, Federal Charges ‘In Play,’ Says B.C. Environment Minister

B.C.’s new Minister of Environment, George Heyman, says he identifies with the many British Columbians eager for the outcome of the single ongoing investigation into the Mount Polley mine disaster that sent 24 million cubic metres of mining waste into Quesnel Lake on August 4, 2014.

“I have spoken with the Parliamentary Secretary to the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change. We are in agreement that British Columbians deserve a rigorous and independent investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and to ensure any person or company that broke the law is held responsible,” Heyman said in a press statement released Wednesday, two days before the provincial statute of limitations for Mount Polley expires.

As B.C. approaches the three-year anniversary of the incident, British Columbians, including local residents directly impacted by the spill, have expressed disappointment that Imperial Metals, owner and operator of Mount Polley, has received no charges and no fines for the disaster, considered one of the worst environmental incidents in Canadian history.

“A disaster like this should never have happened in B.C., and it must never happen again,” Heyman said.

As DeSmog Canada recently reported, while B.C. has reached the expiration date for provincial charges, the statute of limitations has not run out for federal charges under the Fisheries Act.

While two provincial investigations in the Mount Polley spill have been conducted, neither recommended charges or fines be levied against the company.

Yet one investigation is currently ongoing by the B.C. Conservation Service Office alongside the Department of Fisheries and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Heyman said the current investigation is “complex and thorough.”

Information gathered during the investigation will be brought to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, “should charges be recommended,” Heyman said.

“Potential charges under the federal Fisheries Act remain very much in play and, in fact, potential penalties are more significant.”

Under the Fisheries Act, Mount Polley could face $6 million in penalties for causing harm to fish and fish habitat and an additional $6 million for dumping deleterious substances without a permit into fish bearing waters.

“While the three-year anniversary of the disaster also brings us to the statute of limitations on provincial charges, British Columbians should know the overall objective continues to be ensuring a complete investigation,” he said.

“I have full confidence in the work of these law enforcement officials and I know that many concerned British Columbians join me in looking forward to the outcome of this important investigation.” 

Image: B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman. Photo: Stephen Hui via the Pembina Institute. Used with permission.

We’ve got big plans for 2024
Seeking out climate solutions, big and small. Investigating the influence of oil and gas lobbyists. Holding leaders accountable for protecting the natural world.

The Narwhal’s reporting team is busy unearthing important environmental stories you won’t read about anywhere else in Canada. And we’ll publish it all without corporate backers, ads or a paywall.

How? Because of the support of a tiny fraction of readers like you who make our independent, investigative journalism free for all to read.

Will you join more than 6,000 members helping us pull off critical reporting this year?
We’ve got big plans for 2024
Seeking out climate solutions, big and small. Investigating the influence of oil and gas lobbyists. Holding leaders accountable for protecting the natural world.

The Narwhal’s reporting team is busy unearthing important environmental stories you won’t read about anywhere else in Canada. And we’ll publish it all without corporate backers, ads or a paywall.

How? Because of the support of a tiny fraction of readers like you who make our independent, investigative journalism free for all to read.

Will you join more than 6,000 members helping us pull off critical reporting this year?

Northeast B.C. was parched throughout winter. It’s already on fire

Early on Mother’s Day, Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Sharleen Gale headed out to make sure everyone in her community was packing an emergency bag...

Continue reading

Recent Posts

Thousands of members make The Narwhal’s independent journalism possible. Will you help power our work in 2024?
Will you help power our journalism in 2024?
That means our newsletter has become the most important way we connect with Narwhal readers like you. Will you join the nearly 90,000 subscribers getting a weekly dose of in-depth climate reporting?
A line chart in green font colour with the title "Our Facebook traffic has cratered." Chart shows about 750,000 users via Facebook in 2019, 1.2M users in 2020, 500,000 users in 2021, 250,000 users in 2022, 100,000 users in 2023.
Readers used to find us on Facebook. Now we’re blocked
That means our newsletter has become the most important way we connect with Narwhal readers like you. Will you join the nearly 90,000 subscribers getting a weekly dose of in-depth climate reporting?
A line chart in green font colour with the title "Our Facebook traffic has cratered." Chart shows about 750,000 users via Facebook in 2019, 1.2M users in 2020, 500,000 users in 2021, 250,000 users in 2022, 100,000 users in 2023.
Readers used to find us on Facebook. Now we’re blocked
Overlay Image